I have a bad habit of reading a blog or an article, seeing something that interests me, thinking that I should incorporate it into a post, and then convincing myself that I’ll be able to remember where I read this really relevant tidbit and to return to it when necessary.
That doesn’t work. I can never find it again.
That is the case today. The main idea in this post is from someone else’s blog, but I can’t remember where I read it at all. I thought I knew – I thought it came from the blog 42 by Dave Warnock, but I can’t find it now. So just be aware as you read this that it is based on my memory of what I read, and that I can’t confirm it or share with you the original link.
It is a little ironic that the name of what I thought was the originating blog is my age. Maybe there is a clue in that.
If you have read this blog before, or if you know me, then you are more than likely aware of my viewpoint regarding the role of women in church – it is whatever God tells us it is. I’m aware of the writings of Paul on the matter, and I have read many arguments on both sides of the women in ministry issue.
To me, it all boils down to what God is calling us to do. I believe that God does call us to particular types of ministry (ordained or not), and that He graces us with the spiritual gifts to accomplish the calling. I am called to be a teacher in the church. To borrow a phrase from someone I know, “It’s something that I can’t not do.” That’s not a statement of my abilities; it’s a statement of God’s work in my life. In the same way, I believe that the women of my acquaintance who are ordained ministers in the church have a calling to that profession. I believe they have the same “I can’t not do it” feeling about their calling as I do about teaching. That said, I also believe that God would not call anyone to do something that was against His will; that would be illogical and painful for the one being called.
That all said, I ran across another argument the other day which seemed very logical to me. I wish I could tell you where I saw it, but I CAN’T REMEMBER. What does it mean to be a member of a church? Can we say we offer full membership to women if we limit their ability to assume any position in the church? I think if we do that – if we say, “You can be a member – we want you to be a member of the church – but your membership is second class. You can’t enjoy all of the possibilities of membership, but please understand that we love you.”
It isn’t logical. A member is a member, and one member should not outrank or outweigh another in the church. It isn’t the way we do things.
That said, the blog post went on to explain that some found this viewpoint to be a slippery slope. If we say this is true for the ordination of women, then we will eventually be led into saying the same thing for homosexuals.
This opened my eyes to an issue I had been avoiding. I have always believed – from the first moment that I realized that it was an issue at all – that everyone is entitled to the grace of membership in a church – and that homosexuality shouldn’t be – can’t be – a stumbling block in the way of that inclusion. I have avoided really thinking about the ordination of homosexual church members. It hasn’t been an issue that I have had to confront in my life. I know that it is – and probably will continue to be – a tinderbox in the Methodist church.
So, when the article called this kind of thinking a “slippery slope,” I now have to agree. I’ve slid off the fence of avoidance, and now stand here – feet planted firmly on the idea that all members of the body of the church are equal. If I say that women are entitled to ordination because it is one of the possibilities of full membership, then I must also say that the same is true for our homosexual members.
I don’t think that this is an issue on which I’ve changed my mind, it’s just an issue that I have finally been able to clarify in my mind. I don’t know what this will mean to the future of the Methodist church. I pray that it is something we will be able to resolve through the love of God.